The former Kansas secretary of state, Kris William Kobach’s first name, somehow got misspelled at the official FEC register application for participating in the upcoming elections, eagerly awaited after the announcement of Senator Pat Roberts’ withdrawal in January.
This oversight has not remained overseen by the public eye, although it got rectified only an hour later. The misspelling made it to the headlines and got endowed with a nomen-est-omen-ous significance for the launching of the election campaign.
In this instance, certain “keystroke errors” come to mind for which the public held responsible Kobach and pressed him to recure from the position of chief elections official after his tight winning score over Jeff Colyer. Kobach was an acting Secretary of the State of Kansas, and as such, he had to act as the elections official by default. After winning the Republican primary, Kobach lost the general election to a Democrat, Laura Kelly, who is now serving as the 48th Governor of Kansas.
Several influential Republicans decided to give their support to Kelly against their own Kobach, allowing him less and less credibility for his actions.
Senator Roberts’ retiring stirred up the Republican lines and provoked Kobach’s opposition to a new anxious reaction. The open position motivates several candidates to participate as well as Kobach. Given his reputation of an unyielding advocate of the strictest immigration policies, more moderate and more reputable Republican leaders fear that his enthusiasm would appeal to the fervent voters just enough to obtain him a sufficient 30% support, in the expected split of votes between several pretenders, getting him seated in the position of the Republican Senator.
The run for Senate office occupies this particularly sensitive moment of Senate Republican Conference counting 53, prevailing over Democratic Caucus only by 6. In an expert’s opinion, coming from Bob Beatty, a political analyst at Washburn University, this prediction seems entirely plausible.
On Monday, while announcing his candidacy at the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth, Kris Kobach was seconded by the presence of his family by his side and silent, yet a message strongly getting across to his devotees: a banner reading “Build the Wall.” This has showcased Kobach as a candidate fully aware of his strongest sides.
Both Reds and Blues at Odds Over Kobach
The main danger is the odd consensus in the sentiment toward Kobach, who provokes both rivals fighting for every American vote, prominent members of both parties see him more and more as a loose cannon. Commenting on this, Kobach, from his part, calls them “lots of individuals who have some loose association.”
There is a widespread opinion that had not there been for the rushed endorsement by President Trump, odds for Kobach winning the primary election in 2018 would have been much vaguer. Chris Reeves (KDNC) talks of Kobach as “someone so out of control even Trump couldn’t find a place for him.” With him running for the Senate seat, Democrats are presented with an excellent opportunity to seize it. Bob Beatty, from Washburn’s, gives Kobach running for Senate more credit, setting it apart from his 2018 failure. The topics immigration are central for this kind of political race, and this seems to be “a much more natural election” for someone of Kobach’s political profile.
In the traditionally “red state” with the 2 to 1 proportion in favor of the Republican voters, Kobach brought some influential members of his own party to support the Democrat candidate for the Governor’s position. What would come next may cause damage to the Senate Majority and President Trump’s Office, fears Joanna Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (NRSC).
The high Republican officials in NRSC hold under similar scrutiny another candidacy, that of Judge Roy Moore in Alabama. And with Kobach, they are still under strong influence coming from his 2018 campaign for the Governor, which they assess as poorly led and extremist, unable to appeal to more moderate Republican voters.
By their record, after losing in 2004 (in the running for the House of Representatives, to the Democrat candidate Dennis Moore), and last year’s defeat by Laura Kelly, as Jared Suhn, the Republican strategist briefly put: “He hasn’t earned a third shot.”
In the prediction of Kobach’s electoral prospects, Jim Denning, the Republican Majority Leader in Kansas Senate, specifies the points of Kobach’s idiosyncrasies that make Kansas Republicans agitated. The Democrats are also aware of Kobach’s campaign strategies lacking efficiency. If Kobach were promoted to be the Republican primary candidate running for Senate, Democrats would be more than motivated to raise funds from across the U.S. to beat him.
Denning’s remarks appear as well-informed, judging by similar statements coming from the blue side, for instance, Chris Reeves, a member of the Kansas Democratic National Committee.
The supposed candidacy of Kris Kobach enticed withered efforts to include Mike Pompeo, serving Secretary of State, in the battle for the open Senate seat. Pompeo has remained Mitch McConnell’s favorite, and it seems that Kobach is aware of this preference by Senate Majority Leader. There have been suggestions that McConnell would even invest money to stop Kobach from winning the official Republican nomination. It may be that the rumors have reached Kobach, who reportedly asked to meet McConnell while visiting Washington in March but was told that the Senator was absent with his duties in Kentucky.
For the time being, it seems that Kobach joins Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner and former Johnson County Commissioner Dave Lindstrom in the Republican primary elections, and yet the list remains open to several other potential candidates, such as Congressman Roger Marshall, Susan Wagle, Kansas Senate President, and Alan Cobb, head of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.